Festival L.E.V. 2015: “The festival you do not want to miss”

On the occasion of the ninth edition of the Festival de Electrónica Audiovisual L.E.V., that will take place in Gijon on April 30-May 1 and 2, we interview Cristina de Silva, member of FIUM and curator of the festival together with Nacho de la Vega.

Published: Apr 06, 2015
Festival L.E.V. 2015: “The festival you do not want to miss”

L.E.V. Festival in the church of LABoral (2014)

By José Luis Calderón, Nicola Mariani Arte y Sociedad

1. This is the ninth edition of L.E.V. Festival, where you have taken part as curators since 2007. Many people already know you, however, in order to provide context for all types of public, What can you tell us about your curatorial work and the beginnings of the festival and its experience so far?

FIUM -Nacho de la Vega and me- have taken part in the coordination of the Festival L.E.V. (Laboratorio de Electrónica Visual) since its first edition in 2007. About us as curators, L.E.V. is not our first project: In 2002 we were already missing a space where different creations could live together for a few days: Installations, video, photography, music… So we decided to start a project called  Arenas movedizas, that is developed in non-conventional venues. It is a more open and multidisciplinary project. In 2006, although we continued with our activity as FIUM, we created a new work platform called HYPERLINK "http://datatron.tumblr.com/"Datatron. In this platform we decided to create L.E.V., that was born in a very specific and favourable moment, the birth of centro de arte HYPERLINK "http://www.laboralcentrodearte.org/es"LABoral. It all came out in a very natural way. When FIUM was born there was not a totally defined or closed aim. It was born as a consequence of some concerns. Nacho is a photographer, I was also related with photography… and having this double vision, that of an artist and that of a curator has provided extra information for each aspect. Therefore, we set ourselves the goal to Create the ideal festival for the public and the artist. The festival you would like to attend. It is also a ways to establish relationships and synergies. In this sense we like having a double vision: that of the artists, that of the curators and that of the public.

 

promotional/summary video of L.E.V. Festival 2014

2. Did you also take part in previous editions as musicians or artists? Eventhough many already know you, please, tell us some more about FIUM and its artistic side.

In 1998 Nacho and I created the artistic collective Fium focusing on installations, photography, video… We have also developed audiovisual live performances and collaborated with musicians such as Exfium, a merger of Exium and Fium. With this project we toured between 2002 and 2006 through art centres and competitions. In addition, we have collaborated a lot with the composer Ramón Prada, known as Vittus in electronic music. In this field our latest work is a live audiovisual performance with Óscar Mulero –a well-known figure at international level- with whom we have carried out the project Biolive, that has been presented at the theater of LABoral in Gijon, Teatro Apolo in Madrid, Festival Mira in Barcelona…

 

Oscar Mulero & Fium presentan Biolive from Fium on Vimeo.

3. You have gathered a great reception by the public and very good critics, but, What difficulties did you have to overcome when coordinating the festival? What would be your main goals in this edition of L.E.V. and what idea do you want the public to take home?

Everything is difficult, really, because when you want to do everything right and prepare it carefully, there is extra work, and time is really limited and you cannot take care of everything. But the hardest thing is getting funding. Being able to get support and funding to keep alive a festival integrated in the city, in the region…That brings something new, that the public likes, that is different and is well disseminated…all this is hard work. However, this is the ninth edition and as a matter of fact we have received some recognition along this road. But it has not been easy, even if we think that now with the Internet everything gets the same visibility, this is not true. It is not the same organising this festival in a city like Barcelona or Madrid, or doing it in a city like Gijon. Along these nine years we have worked a lot, and we have learned a lot. Now it is already an appealing festival with personality, well positioned, and loved by the public. The goal is to be part of the European circuit. Currently there is a wide public that visits European festivals. It is also a way of tourism. We want to be part of this circuit. And we think that Gijon and Asturias have a good deal to offer. Therefore, as I said before, our goal is that L.E.V. becomes the festival you would like to see. That it becomes a unique experience, with all this programme. A festival where there is no hurry and you can enjoy the experience of visiting the singular venues that host the activities, enjoy the programme, talk to people, stop to have lunch and a drink, do some sightseeing in the city…

 

4. In the festival’s web site you detail the festival’s programme. What is new in this year’s edition compared to previous editions? Can you advance anything?

Among the new things this year, we will focus on showcasing the electronic scene in Japan, what we have called Focus Japón. Last year we focused on creation in Quebec. We wanted to go outside Europe. Three invited artists are coming. Two of them will perform at Jardín Botánico Atlántico de Gijón and the other one at the church of LABoral. In addition there will be a work by a resident artist, Yuri Suzuki, that will be presenting a sound installation, taking advantage of the coincidence in time of his artistic residency at the Sound LAB of LABoral and L.E.V. He works with sound in a very physical way.

From laboratorio de electrónica visual I would single out shows such as Transforma& Yro, Paul Prudence (a closed audiovisual proposal; He is the only author), or the Icelandic artist Ben Frost with MFO. In some occasions the collaborations with artists are proposed by the festival, this is the case of the Polish artist Jacaszek with the visual artist Alba G Corral. We loved the way they work and contacted both of them and arranged a collaboration. There are other works that go beyond the screen; for example, audiovisual installations, as in the case of Nicolas Bernier. We want L.E.V. to be a comfortable festival, alternating the activities and generating tours through the different venues. Around 70% of the public comes from outside Gijon and, like in previous editions, the venues of Ciudad de la Cultura are very helpful to develop the activities under optimal conditions and generating a suitable atmosphere. Among the audiovisual activities, some have a specific time, others have a more installation-like format and can be seen at any moment.

frequencies (light quanta) from Nicolas Bernier on Vimeo.

 

In line with this idea that the festival grows horizontally creating new audiences, I would also emphasise a show that we have programmed in the heart of Gijon, by Playmid, on Thursday and Friday. It is an activity open for all publics that can be visited during three hours. Playmid are regular collaborators of this festival. They worked last year in L.E.V. with light and laser, bringing a visual atmosphere to all the shows in LABoral’s church.

LEV FESTIVAL 2014 - Iglesia from LEVFestival on Vimeo.

 

5. Currently young audiences (or not so young) is familiar with electronic music, but may be not much with the audiovisual language in relation with electronics. What are the main difficulties for addressing and explaining your discourse?

I think that audiovisual creation is going up now. There is demand and it is successful. What happens is that it is a field on has to discover. One of our duties is to show these creations. L.E.V. has a very specific audience that knows the festival, but there are always new audiences that visiti the festival. Some of this new public do not have any previous knowledge about what they are about to see, but they are generally open to surprises, and the surprises are very nice. I always think that the festival has different planes of layers. There are some daily activities like those in Jardín Botánico, some other audiovisual activities located in the theatre, installation-like activities in the Art Centre, other activities focusing on sound art at the Sound LAB … these parts are not distributed equally but the festival has the capability of reaching different audiences in all these venues. Later we would like to extend the festival for new audiences, and I think this growth should be horizontal. For this reason the programme of the festival changes a little bit each year. It changes son that we do not have the same festival ever year.

 

LEV Festival 2014 - Jardín Botánico from LEVFestival on Vimeo.

 

6.What do you mean exactly when you say, in your web site, that you work with the language of new technologies “without actually subliminating them” and that one of your ideas is “reflecting upon the recovery of the dreams of the past and their impact on our way of understanding the present”?

We mean that we like working with new technologies, but we do not want to be limited to their special effects or their artificial nature, we actually flee from that. In other words, we want to use them as a tool for supporting the creation we have in mind. On the other hand, the point of departure of all our works or some of them is the past: Objects, texts, ancient icons, souvenirs or feelings of our childhoods, memory is very important in our way of analysing the present.  ….Thus, all the inspiration of FIUM is very retro-futurist, something that seems to be different to technology, which has a futurist concept.

7. It seems that L.E.V.'s approach aims to unite some disciplines or artistic and musical genres that have been seen separately. Do you think that there are still many separations between electronic music, video-art, sound art, video clips…? To what extent do you think these subdivisions are necessary?

Personally they are never necessary. It is very hard for me to label what I do and what others do. We work with different genres, disciplines or languages that are hybrids that were not supposed to combine with each other. It is true that when you need to explain what you are doing you need to put it within some parameters in order to shape it and I think there are artists working in very specific fields (for example, only video), however, for many creators, creation is something global: Installation, performance, video….All this in a way that is hard to dissociate.

Playmid in Barcelona (2014)

8. How it is Spain currently positioned internationally in electronic music and audiovisual electronic creation?

I think Spain in a value on the rise in this type of creation. Musicians related with audiovisual electronic creation are increasingly present. But I think we have to keep on working hard to accomplish more visibility, and in this sense festivals are very helpful, as they are a format and a platform where synergies among all can be established in one direction, which enables us to grow. In this field we need to combine our energies and work to make ideas visible and materialise projects. If not, as an artist, it is very hard to manage projects individually. L.E.V. has recently joined the network ICAS that integrates many international festivals related with electronic and audiovisual creation. There are opportunities in Spain but the circuit is very small. Other European countries such as England or Germany have been working many years now and they have political and cultural infrastructures that help a lot. Not to mention the case of Canadian artists that enjoy an impressive support by the State. There are very good artists working and I think that it is time that we realise this from different structures.

 

 

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